When the University of Something began its three-month $900,000 TV advertising program with the slow-motion theme asking '"Are you out there?", the new regime's gurus didn't count on an uprising from some important folks who are out there and not at all pleased by the game plan.
The latest reaction came from the University of Akron's Women's Committee, a long time support group that informed UA's rebranding deep thinkers that it would no longer volunteer financial assistance to the school. The source of the group's anger is team Scarborough's scheme to demote Akron's name from references to the school.
The idea reached an absurd new level when a front-office guy said the marching band uniforms would replace the big "A" with a "Z" on the hats. Nowhere does the name Akron appear. To make the transitions look even worse to the Women's Committee, it had recently given the school $11,000 for the marchers' new raincoats and bags.
No one was more aghast than Louise Harvey, the women's committee president and former development director at E.J. Thomas Hall and arts programs.
She told me Sunday she hasn't received a personal response from President Scarborough nor anyone else on his team. "And I don't think we will," she said, resignedly.
But she did say she's heard from three "important donors" who were withdrawing their financial support. "I'm hoping that others will step forward," she said.
In a letter signed by 80 members to Scarborough, Gov Kasich and titled state education officials, as well as lawmakers, Harvey said her committee has been "deeply concerned" about the changes under way at the University. She said the committee is "most distressed by the proposed rebranding of the University of Akron to Ohio's Polytechnic University".
"The University of Akron is not an institution that needs to be 'rebranded' or recreated to make it better," the letter said. It forcefully noted that "the elimination of The University of Akron name is an egregious affront to the Band and donors."
Responding to the media, but not to the committee, it was Larry Burns' turn to stifle the dissent. He's the school's new vice president of advancement, of all things, that arrived at UA from Toledo as a comfy entitlement for Team Scarborough.
Burns was keen on rolling out such board room jargon as "valuable marketing tools"' and "distinctive positioning" of the University as "Ohio's Polytechnic University" as the path to UA's bright future.
But, Sir, it ain't working out that way as you erode the school's public base. As long as we're talking about an academic place, I would turn to the great Italian poet, Petrarch, who perceptively wrote many years ago:
"The climax of all evils is when a man, rooted in some false opinion, grows fatally persuaded that his course is right."
Will Petrarch still be "out there" in UA's passion for Ohio's Polytechnic University.